Thursday, November 03, 2011

Happy Halloween It Was.

Greetings, friends!

Let's catch up. When we last left the HomeValleyians, they had an adorable 16 month-old babe. Now, this babe is 17 months. Fear not: still totally adorable. Peep Yoda on Halloween.

Everyday is a new adventure with Hank. He very much enjoys "driving" the Altima. He hops in the front seat before you can catch him, makes himself comfortable, fiddles with the radio, and grins maniacally. Just try to remove him from that seat when it is actually time to drive somewhere. I dare you. The dude can thrash with the best of them.

When we finally wrangle him into his seat and get on the road, he controls the stream of music. He appreciates a lot of different genres, but especially loves Adele at the moment. When he hears her voice - any song of hers will do - he literally screams with delight. He also squeals for LMFAO, that bizarre song about partying on the rooftop even the white kids, and the Pumped Up Kicks tune.

Beware the wrath if he does not like the music however. He will yell and shout and kick until you change that station, goddamnit, and he can't be reasoned with. Toddlers are really irrational, you guys.

But what of his parents lately? Last week J took off on Thursday and Friday for our "Staycation". (Oh my God yes we actually called it that.) And like anyone trying to relax at home for a few days, we decided it would be the perfect time TO DO A CLEANSE.

Here is what I have learned about cleanses. The most important thing you can do is formulate an answer to the question: What is the purpose of this cleanse? If you cannot answer this question with any degree of convincing, you are ill-suited to do a cleanse ON YOUR VACATION, HOLY SHIT.

Even more humiliating, we chose a Dr. Oz cleanse. I liked that you could eat actual food (I would last about 6 seconds drinking a cayenne-pepper-maple-syrup concoction).

So what did we have for breakfast? Quinoa, with almond milk and prunes and GINGER. J got this down quite easily, but I struggled. I love ginger, but something about the combination of flavors... It's hard to think about, you guys. The trauma.

Lunch was a blueberry banana smoothie, which actually was delish. Dinner was a homemade cabbage soup with traditionally fermented sauerkraut and apples. At this point, our 48-hour cleanse became a 24-hour deal. And also, the fun-sized Snickers bars I had purchased for Halloween turned life-sized and started taunting us from the pantry.

Other takeaways? First: Mom and Pops are pretty addicted to food. To be sure, we normally eat pretty well; but deciding what to eat and when is a distinct pleasure. The absence of choice actually made me feel quite blue.

Second: We might be alcoholics.

Third: You will destroy ANY benefit of a VACATION CLEANSE the next day, when you will eat every Snickers bar in a five-mile radius and drink copious amounts of wine, celebrating the fact that you can eat anything your heart desires. In essence, a cleanse (deprivation) is completely counterproductive to good health. Periodic indulgences = good. Cabbage soup with mushrooms and a whole fennel bulb = bad.

Don't say I never learned you anything on this here blog.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I've spent the bulk of this nap period writing a piece about motherhood that I'm not sure is - and ever will be - fit to print. I need to prepare supper, scrub poop from diapers, finish chapter 7 in my accounting text, learn everything there is to know about Mosaic - the world's leading producer of phosphate and potash - update my budget, complete all of my Christmas shopping, and shower, preferably all at some point today. But I miss you and love you. Please to enjoy.

Friday, October 07, 2011

16 Months.

I don't know where to start; how to capture you at 16 months.

You, my friend, are a marvel. Your dad and I tend to stare at you in rapt fascination. Did we really make him? Does his adorableness really know no bounds?

You are a pleasant, charming, gregarious little boy. You have been known to greet people by approaching them swiftly with your arms raised, so that they can pick you up and you can really investigate them.

You are focused, even serious, at this age. You concentrate on the task at hand, and you are driven. Last night, you helped me with the laundry. You systematically put each of your clean diapers back into the dryer after I had removed them. I didn't have the heart to tell you that that's not how it works. Thanks again for that, buddy.

You love planes and birds. When you hear either in the sky, your eyes widen and you point up, with your long inhale of breath sound of excitement and glee: "HUUUUUUUUUHHHHH!"

You are a man of few words; you prefer to screech. I have lots of videos of this, friend, and I will show future lady friends. You say mama, dada, Nonna, Mom-Mom, diaper, (deh duh), uh-oh, bye-bye, banana (NANA, always with enthusiasm), baby, star, milk (meh meh), and the like. The other day in the tub you said bubbles, and then, "Bubbles, mama!" and I screamed with delight and yelled for your dad who unfortunately was outside on a ladder and ran in panicked, thinking I had fallen again.

It was worth it.

Bubbles, mama.

You are a very happy kid, except when you are hungry or sleepy. When hungry, you whine until we realize what you're after. I think you are quite over our ineptitude though, and have taken to going to the pantry and retrieving the snack that you would like. This morning after breakfast, you brought me some apple sauce. "No, baby," I told you firmly. "You may have that for lunch."

I forgot about this until lunch time, when I asked you what you wanted to eat. You marched to the pantry and brought me the apple sauce. You got two servings; Mama was beyond impressed with your tenacity.

When sleepy, you literally collapse in a heap with woe, giant tears spilling from your big blue eyes, as if to say, Help me, parents. I just can't take any more of this; put me to bed immediately. We oblige.

You love sweeping, the vacuum (BAC! BAC!), and knocking over anything anyone builds ever. You prefer sifting through rocks and dirt to playgrounds. You are delighted by dogs and cats and when you see one, you either bark like a dog and run towards the animal, or SCREAM giddily and run towards the animal. Because of this, most dogs and cats find you very menacing. If only they realized the utter joy you feel upon recognizing them. Someday they will, baby.

You are confident. You are spirited. You march ahead, my intrepid explorer, rarely looking back for me. Sound is your kryptonite however; a Sing-a-ma-jig, a car alarm, even a baby's loud cry leaves you reeling, your lower lip protruding in the way that breaks my heart.

And your feet! Those toes! They are so scrumptious; I never stop talking about them. Only a mother can understand the true wonder of baby feet. Your big toe is a miracle, friend. Just trust me on this one.

Lately, you love to bounce around on Mama and Daddy's bed. You flip about, crashing into pillows and giggling. Then, you will jump on me, snuggle up, and coo, "Baaaby, baaaaby."

Yes, buddy. Always.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Things are a wee bit crazy on this end. I'm still adjusting to school (which is an inside joke with myself, because tonight we are going to talk about adjusting financial statements in accounting. Isn't accounting hilarious?)

(I kind of suck at accounting.)

(I'm not just saying that.)

In life, I believe that there is no problem I can't study my way out of... And so that is what I do now. I study. I wake up at 5 or 5:30, and I study. Baby napping? I study. Getting a pedicure? You know I've got that management book sprawled across my lap.

And still. I worry it's not enough.

Last week I bombed my first accounting quiz. I knew the material too; but the prof threw in revenues and expenses, and like, we totally hadn't covered them yet, and so I was completely thrown off OH LORD WHY DON'T I KNOW THIS ALL I DO IS STUDY and then I got nervous and failed miserably. (The entire class seemed to have been thrown; I did manage to get us an extra 2 points for the uncovered material.)

WITH that extra 2 points? I got a 5 out of 10. Failure, thy name is HomeValley.

We have our second quiz tonight. Hoping I can get the old confidence back. Mrs. Crane told me I would be president of a major corporation way back in the 7th grade, you guys, and I don't want to let her down. (Though, in fairness, she probably didn't know about my accounting ineptitude. Had she, she may have just shrugged and proclaimed me destined for middle-management.)

(Sidenote: I made a friend in last week's class. He introduced himself and thanked me for speaking up about the quiz. We chatted for a few minutes during break. As we were about to walk back into class, he said, "You know what has really been bothering me though? It stinks in there." Word, brother. Beware the SBDs.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Terror, Explained.

Absolutely worth a read, from Shoshana Hebshi at Stories from the Heartland blog. I also had to repost what commenter Ian said, because I couldn't agree more.

See, the purpose of terrorism is to cause exactly this. “Terrorism” isn’t about killing people — it’s about terrorizing. That’s why it’s called “terrorism” and not “killing-people-ism.”

Killing people is a means to an end. The end is to destroy a society, by breaking down the rule of law and social contract. And we do this better than any other nation on Earth. We’ve gone from a light unto the nations, a place which may not have always done the right thing, but was always on the right path, to a place that is an example of a police state, a cautionary tale to other nations. And why? Because we have reacted in exactly the way that al Qaeda was hoping.

In doing so, we’ve proven that we are a PERFECT target for terrorism. A terrorist who attacks the United States gets EXACTLY the goal they want: a repressive, over-zealous, fascist security force which destroys the freedom and liberty that this country once had.

Once upon a time, people thought that “freedom” was a thing that you were willing to risk your life to fight for. This country was founded on the notion that you had to risk your security to guarantee your freedom — and that that is a bargain well worth making.

Now? We trade in all our freedom for a tiny bit of security, the act of a craven coward. And we harm other people in the process.

I am ashamed to be a citizen of a country where three people could be detained like that, because someone was afraid. Terrorism requires people to be terrified.

And the people who are terrified are craven. And willing to harm their fellow citizens because of their own terror.

It was never more visceral for me than a train ride to DC shortly after the attacks. An Arab-looking gentleman was clutching a paper bag tightly in the row across from me. He went to the bathroom once, then again. The second time, he brought his carry-on bag, and was gone for far too long. I sat paralyzed - utterly terrified - because I was sure that he was going to emerge with a bomb strapped to his chest. I was sure it was the end.

I did nothing. I just waited there: unmoving, heart pounding.

He came out wearing more casual clothes. Then he pulled a slice of pizza from the brown paper bag.

So yes, indeed, Ian. In that respect, the terrorists have won.

Back to School

I am not sure what my favorite moment from class was last night. Here are a few:

  • The BO? She is intense. Last night I had to dab perfume on my wrists, hold them conspicuously in front of my face all night, and simultaneous concentrate on retaining the information and breathing through my mouth. Also, guy who has mastered the Silent-But-Deadly fart in the row ahead of me? Kudos, brother; but you're killin' me.

  • Perhaps the moment when the professor was giving an example of coercive power, and yelled at the class to stand up? And she spotted a guy in the back row not standing, and she pointed at him and bellowed, "You! Get up! Why aren't you standing?!" And another student quietly informed her that he was physically unable to stand, what with that pesky wheelchair and all.

  • Or, when, with fifteen minutes left in class, a woman in the front row (who had the distinction of talking more than me this round) shouted out: "Hey! Weren't we supposed to have a quiz tonight?" I am surprised texts didn't fly at her head; the collective groan was deafening.

At one point, our instructor asked for an example of empathy. A man in the corner raised his hand and began," When my mother died in the earthquake in Haiti..." You could have heard a pin drop. I spent the rest of the class sending him psychic hugs.

Three weeks in, and nary a dull moment. I'll take it, business school. I just wish it smelled more like roses.

Meanwhile, do you remember this dude?

He's like, 15 now or something.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A New Season

Recovering from my (fake) brush with death yesterday. My left temple is a lovely green shade and my shoulder and wrist are aching. Nothing a little light exercise and Management reading can't fix. And perhaps I should consider one of those benches in the shower, made specifically for seniors?

So what's new? I've started my grad school courses, though due to Hurricane Irene and Labor Day, I still haven't actually attended my Management class yet. I'm also taking Accounting, which I quite enjoy. All in all, a good semester thus far, a mere three weeks in.

Today marks Day 1 of half-marathon training. I intend to run the Dallas White Rock in early December; and thank Jesus, because I am quite jiggly these days. I managed to gain nearly FIVE pounds on our three-week sojourn through the Northeast (cheese fries, cheese nuggets, ice cream, Italian hoagies, cheesecakes, cupcakes, and the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru will do that to a gal), and I am currently trying to rid myself of the extra girth so I can button my pants again one day soon.

Oh! I found an old journal, one I've been missing for quite some time now. And this one is GOOD, y'all. It is juicy and sordid and paints a picture of a very self-centered lass from 1997 through 99, during which time I move to New York and mercifully gain some perspective and stop obsessing about boys a tiny fraction. As I was skimming, I came across an entry in which I divulge my weight - 10 full pounds less than I am now - and write, "I need to lose at least 10 - 12 pounds; starting to feel like a heifer!" And now I'd like to personally thank anyone who hung out with me in high school, because damn: I was annoying.

Finally, yesterday I hobbled along with my boys to a new friends' place to watch the Eagles game. (Fellow Birds fans: huzzah!) At one point I got down on the floor to color with Hendrik and their two young daughters. Later, back home, J and I were sitting on the couch when he started giggling and burst out, "How 'bout your plumber's crack today?" When I asked him why he didn't nudge me to pull up my jeans, he just laughed and replied: "I'm sure I'm the only one who noticed." Right, J: because no one ever picks up on a person's butt checks billowing out of the top of their pants.

Informal poll this Monday morning: Divorce?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years

Today, I fell in the shower.

Let me explain. I got a pedicure yesterday, and because they are now somewhat few and far between, I decided that I would work tirelessly to sustain soft, lady-like heels. I slathered on Bliss Tough Love callous remover before bed, and again this morning. Hours later, I walked into the shower.

I completely lost my footing. My soles were practically oiled, causing me to slip backwards on the cultured marble floor. I landed on my left shoulder, and my head then made contact with the edge of the shower door. My arm tingling, head ringing, I yelled for J.

As he came into the bathroom, I lay hunched over the door frame. "I fell," I explained. "My arm tingles."

"Are you okay?" He asked, and as he reached me he did a sharp intake of breath.

"What?" I yelped. "Am I bleeding?"

"No, you just have a huge bump," he explained, gingerly touching my left temple.

I began to panic as my hand flew to my head. The bump was large, had appeared instaneously. "Let's get you to lie down," J said, wrapping me in a towel and guiding me to the bedroom. He quickly fetched an ice pack and put it to my temple.

"I'm going to die," I say with absolute certainty. "The date, J! I am going to die on the tenth anniversary of September 11th. I was supposed to die then, but I'll die today; just like Natasha Richardson did. The IRONY!" (Proof that nothing good comes from watching Final Destination. And also? Post-traumatic stress victim, party of one?)

I believed it too. I assumed that it was my fate: to die from a desire for soft heels and callous-free toes.

Fuck, you know? Just when you thought you were healed? You ain't healed. The wound becomes less pronounced, it ebbs and dulls. It becomes a scar; it fades, but it reserves the right to be ripped open at a moment's notice.

It also takes many forms, an insidious foe that you often don't recognize initially. Lately? It is a visceral fear of leaving my son. Not getting to see him grow; missing it all. It is a nervous, gnawing, vague anxiety, until I slip and land on my skull and see my life flash before my eyes.

Can I confess something? I've let myself delve more into 9/11 nostalgia this year than ever before. I read Lisa Beamer's memoir; I watched TLC's Heroes of the 88th Floor. I even picked up United 93 at my local library. Before I did, I searched You Tube for clips from the film. I came across a 911 call made from the 105th floor of the North Tower.

I listened to it.

This man had no idea what had just happened. He couldn't see through the thick black smoke. He begged the 911 dispatcher to send help. He was there with another man. They couldn't see. It was becoming difficult to breathe. A fireman came on the line and tried to calm him. "We're working our way up," he assured him. The dispatcher came on the line again. "I'm going to stay with you," she assured him. He replied weakly, seemingly realizing his fate: "You can say that: you're in an air-conditioned building."

I think perhaps this is the most devastating thing I have ever heard.

I don't have any words of wisdom on the tenth anniversary of the "day the world changed forever", or whatever sweeping, heart-string-tugging platitude the news channels can deliver. (On our way home this evening, a local radion station played this spot: "Where were you on 9/11? The day the world changed! 9.33 FM!")

I just ache for those who lost their lives; who missed out. I mourn with those who lost the people dear to them. And I pray that the survivors - all of us, really - find a lasting peace.

Perhaps someday, a bump on the head can be just that - a blip, an accident - and not a fatality; an epic catastrophe waiting to unfold.

I hope.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Things I Need To Complain About.

Oh, you guys. You know how sometimes you just need to get it out there, so you can let it go? Please forgive me this bratty indulgence. But here are some things I need to complain about, so I can be my normal sunny self again.

  1. The HEAT. My loves, it is about a million degrees in North Texas. I am not exaggerating. The HEAT is like another clingy, irritating family member, because all of your decisions need to be made according to the HEAT. When can we go for a walk? We have to get out early to beat the heat. Did you want to go out at 5 AM? It is only 90 degrees at 5 AM. That should be great. Can we go to this outdoor event this weekend? No, it is going to be 108 degrees, our baby's face will melt and his curly mullet will disintegrate; further, why does any rational person in Texas plan anything in July or August anyway? Are they insane?!? Can you run into the house to get me a beer as I sit in the 90 degree pool that feels incredibly refreshing? Sure, just let me make sure I put my flip flops under my chair... Damn, I didn't. I will have to wait three hours while they cool, so I can dash into the house without my feet catching fire. Oh, you guys. The HEAT. Last night, J laughingly told me the forecast for this week: 110, 109, 108, 107, 107... I grabbed my phone to see for myself, because surely, he must be joking. He wasn't. Mercy. Also? The other night? Our downstairs AC unit wouldn't turn on (we keep the upstairs unit at 78 all day, on the first floor we only use the AC at night). J was all: Well, you'll have to call the home warranty company tomorrow. I was all: OH MY EFFING GOD J THERE IS NO WAY WE SHAN'T SURVIVE WE MUST FIX THIS IMMEDIATELY FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY. Praise Jesus I was able to fix the problem. To sum up: HEAT.

  2. Pediatricians. I miss our Philly docs. I had a very traumatic experience with our new pediatrician's office at Hendrik's 12-month visit (it involved a blood draw, a screaming baby, a mama instructed to get on top of the baby to hold him down, an inept medical assistant, and THREE separate employees who did not listen to the mother who told everyone HE DOES NOT NEED THIS TEST HE JUST HAD IT. You see? Trauma.) Feeling like the worst mother in North Texas, I vowed to find a new ped the old-fashioned way. (Remember being pregnant? Remember those awkward interviews?) I asked for recommendations in playgroup. Yesterday, I called the first doc. The receptionist acted like I was straight-up nuts when I asked if I could schedule an interview. Um, no, we don't do that. I mean, we do prenatal interviews. If you are pregnant. You can come in and like, get a pamphlet. I clarified: you mean, the doctor would meet with me if I was pregnant, but not with a child living outside of the womb? I called a second doc at 4:15, and the office was closed; the message mentioned that any after-hours call to a nurse cost $10, not billable to insurance. Wha?? So do they collect credit card information before a nurse will answer a question about diaper rash? In Philly, our nurse line was amazing. You could call at anytime, and they'd always ease the fears of a nervous first-time mom. Le sigh.

  3. Health "insurance". This I won't belabor, but we switched to a high-deductible health plan. Shit is expensive, guys, and wellness is supposed to be covered. But then they apparently changed the definition of "wellness" to "nothing". So yeah. Pretty much nothing is covered. I think you were on to something, Michael Moore.

How do you all find a new doctor? Am I insane for wanting to meet? Are babies outside the uterus all chopped liver?

Uh oh. I did all that complaining and I don't feel better yet. Someone tell me something good.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Because It's Wednesday...

And I am on hold with United Health Care, talking deductibles and labs and well-visits and, most specifically, why was this applied to the deductible, when clearly this is a routine lab part of a well-visit?

Some time later...

Well, if I worked for a major medical insurance company, and I had to tell my customer something they didn't want to hear, I too would blame "the universal health care reform". Well played, Mae. Well played.

Snippet time!

  • I love autocorrect. Seriously want to marry it. Today I got a text message from J as H and I were on our way to meet him at My Gym for some free play time. "On my way. Had to take a deep tour." Dirty!

  • Lo and behold, J's detour was to DFW airport - Granddad just happened to be bunking in Dallas for the night. Win for the whole fam! I also love random grandparent drop-ins. Hendrik was very excited as well.

  • The only time our kid will nap for two hours is when we actively need him to be awake because we are really, really famished on a Saturday afternoon and would like to be at the sushi restaurant immediately. On those days, Hank is Rumpelstiltskin. But when Mommy just wants to sit down and watch DVRed episodes of So You Think You Can Dance, you can be sure he pooped and needs to be changed post-haste and would also like to run around his bedroom and throw books at my head.

  • Finally, J is hiring peeps. A recruiter passed on a resume he thought J might like after he performed an initial candidate screen. J passed. The recruiter contacted the candidate to tell him J passed. His response? Ready?

(Are you sure you are really ready? It's good.)

"they why did you call me and email me in the first place. get your shit together."

Somebody hire this pragmatist ASAP.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Little Boy.

Some more shots from our Colorado trip...

Who is this little boy? What has he done with my baby? And why is he giving me the stink-eye?

Just two dudes, being adorable. Born a mere 80 years apart.

His pensive mountain look.

Playground on Cheyenne Mountain. Shots taken before a very spirited two-year old knocked him in the head with a bucket. Boy's mama proceeded to put the bucket in time-out. Because it totally was the inanimate object's fault.

Now, let's smile for the camera, Hank:

Fourteen month-old boys are truly the bee's knees.

I'm Your Candy Girl

I think we can all agree that the days of "relaxing" on a vacation are kaput once the babies arrive. The only breaks I had in Colorado were when little man was napping or asleep for the night. (Since J was not with us - he was at a conference in Seattle - I read. Oh, and it was glorious.)

But if I cannot relax on vacation as per usual, I can certainly reassess my life's goals, goddamnit. As with every sojourn away from home, I returned to Dallas with renewed purpose. This time, I decided to do something once and for all about my health.

Bob Greene (Oprah's "brother" and fitness guru) said earlier this year: "When you are motivated, you are out of excuses." Word, Bob. And when you have a young'un, you have a million excuses, not least of which is: I'm really fucking tired right now and I deserve this king-sized Snickers bar. Bitch.

I'm still about ten-ish pounds away from wedding weight, five pounds from pre-baby poundage. This is not the end of the world, and I feel pretty good. Unfortunately, my clothes are just ever-so-slightly too snug. You know the feeling? Oh for sure, I can button those jeans, but beware the muffin top. And I can squeeze into this sleeveless shirt from 09, but it is really pinching my wobbly arm bits.

We're a one-income family now, with a large mortgage and graduate school and an electricity bill that I opened a few days ago and said: "Wait. This must be two months of energy, right?" New clothes are just not an option right now, save the occasional top I buy at Target that falls apart after three washings.

So my mission: she is clear.

I have to get back to my fighting weight.

If there is one thing I love in this life, it is vodka JJ Abrams Coach Oprah Snickers sugar. And so I first decided to assess this addiction. I eat sweets constantly, particularly if I am feeling blue or bored or it's a day of the week. Recently, Hendrik and I ran out to Target and I returned home with a Snickers bar AND a Toblerone. I gobbled up the candy in 3 minutes flat. I did not feel good afterwards.

Lately, it's been ice cream and chocolate and caramel corn and chocolate and Heath bar on my Tasti D-Lite and chocolate. I have several frequent buyer cards stamped at the Marble Stone Creamery, and my mom left behind a wake of Twizzlers and M&Ms. In Colorado, my Far-Mor put sugar on fruit and fed me incredible pound cake and homemade whipped cream, as well as a steady supply of Dove chocolates.

Yet the scale hasn't budged. Imagine!

Aside from the L-Bs, I believe sugar may be a carcinogen. For sure, it causes a plethora of health issues (hello, diabetes). There is no nutritional value, only potential detriment. To this end, when someone tries to give it to Hank, I tend to react like they have offered him arsenic.

No, I am not cutting out all sugar (it's virtually impossible and I still want to have some fun), but I am looking very closely at my intake. I remembered hearing on one of those PBS infomercials that you should max out at 16g of sugar daily. To put this into perspective, my hazelnut coffee creamer has 9g in 2 tablespoons. One teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams.

I relaxed my standards a bit when I read that most docs recommend you do not exceed 32g daily, or 8 teaspoons.

Oh! And I rejoiced when I learned that most red wine has about .96g per 5 ounces. BOO YEAH.

It's been going well. I've been tracking my intake for a week now, and the highest I've gone is 34 grams. Most days I average 24. I dare you to start tracking your own intake. One tiny Nature's Path granola bar has 15 grams of sugar. This new focus is rocking my world.

My other health/fitness resolutions?

  1. Get thee to the gym, at least 3 times per week. This is based on monetary concerns, because cash rules everything around me, y'all. I can't justify a $50 monthly expense unless I get my ass there. The fitness? Just a bonus. I've been taking Hendrik to the Kid's Club, which is wonderful for him. It gives him some independent time with other kids - and other adults - and he seems to really enjoy it. I've also been to several Sunday morning yoga classes, and I'm actually thrilled with the caliber of the practice there. I can't afford a studio right now, but I am very pleased with the instructors at LA Fitness. We've also been walking outside before 10 AM, at which time all Texans must be inside, lest your face melt off in the 120 degree temps. (Another post, my pets.)

  2. Drink 64 ounces of water daily. I suck at this. But I am trying.

  3. Cut out the booze. Did I tell you J got me a wine fridge? Slid it right into the kitchen where the trash compactor used to be. It is unspeakably awesome, yet lends itself to one to two glasses of pinot noir daily. For now, I'm saving vino for the weekends. So far, so good.

  4. Take vitamins. Multi, calcium, D - what up??

  5. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. You know when you really want a starchy carb or a pint of Ben and Jerry's? I have been reaching for cucumbers and celery with hummus instead. It sucks, and it makes me very cranky at first; but then I realize I am doing something good for my body, my health, and my son. And then it makes me only slightly less stabby.

Jada Pinkett Smith said in this month's Redbook (BTW, I don't remember subscribing to Redbook. It justs keeps coming every month and I keep reading. I think they just know I am over 30 and married with children and thus subscription is mandatory.) that for her, "food is fuel." I really like that. It forces me to ask myself what will nourish my body and make it work better? when all I long to do is curl up with a jar of Nutella and a spoon.

What about you all? Do you monitor your sugar intake? Any fitness resolutions this summer? And do you read and/or like Redbook? Do tell.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blogger Woe - Need Guidance.

Okay, friends: who among you is using Blogger? And does everyone have as much trouble as I do inserting photos? Each time I do, I spend 10 hours trying to reassemble my text into something coherent, and it rarely works (as evidenced below). HALP.

What am I doing wrong? What can I do to save time when posting pics? Any advice would be most appreciated. I have been blogging for FIVE years and I gots no clue.

Thanks, loves. Happy weekend.

Rocky Mountain Hiney

First rides!

First solo ride. Look alive, Sadie!

Quality time with Far-Far.

Keeping it classy with mismatched socks at DIA.


Oh, dudes: the pure joy of traveling the friendly skies with a 14-month old! The thrills! The chills! The yogurt puffs!

Last night, when we finally arrived home at 10:30, I told J that when we have another child? I am just never going anywhere again. Ever. Mkay?

Overall, our trip to Colorado was fantastic. Our 1.5 hour flight on Saturday went very well. We had skipped his morning nap so by the time we taxied down the runway for takeoff at 11:30 AM, I was able to rock baby boy to sleep on my lap. He looked so sweetly serene snoozing there on my chest. I have also never been quite so grateful to read the completely inane People magazine. Score one for Mama Dukes.

Of course, he woke up after about 35 minutes, at which time I entertained him and other passengers with dramatic readings of I Love You All The Time and impassioned renditions of Itsy Bitsy Spider. Best mom ever.

The highlights?

  • The flesh-eating bacteria that threatened Hank's delicate booty. I finally had to admit to myself that all-natural Burt's Bees butt cream is totally ineffective. My boy needs maximum strength Desitin on his bits. Poor man finally started to heal as we headed home.

  • I bet none of you chickens realized that Santa actually lives in the foothills of Pike's Peak Suckers. Hendrik totally visited the North Pole, Santa's actual workshop tucked away in the mountains. We rode rides! And I even let Hendrik go on the boats by himself, entrusting a very questionable-looking 4 year-old to protect him from jumping ship.

  • My Far-Mor (that's Swedish for grandmother) getting a positive PET scan reading: no more cancer. We celebrated at the Old Country Buffet. (No, really.)

  • Hank spending quality time with his great-grandparents. He's got three of them! Lucky dude.

  • Watching The Bachelorette with my grandmother. We both agree Ben is super-sexy; and Ames really needed to go.

  • Have you guys seen Despicable Me? Tangled? Go forth and Netflix. Solid, solid films. I think I might only watch Pixar and Disney movies from here on out.

  • The flight home, on which one of us refused to sleep, though it was hours past bedtime. To fuck with me, he passed out as we the plane touched down. Waiting for our stroller on the jetway, every single person who passed exclaimed, "Finally asleep, huh?" One guy told me he was on the flight to Denver with us. "Man, he is hilarious! Nice set of lungs on him!" Indeed. And sorry, fellow passengers.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Headed West.

Last night's orientation went well, especially when the instructor told us to please eat the refreshments located at the front of the lecture hall, and I dropped a slippery two-liter bottle of soda on the floor. Luckily, the bottle was closed, so I merely laughed and said sheepishly, "Nobody open that."


Today I am busy packing for our jaunt to Colorado tomorrow. Hank and I are off on another adventure together, and though I am dreading the flight (he's lap-riding, and he's very squirmy), I am packing 783 books, DVDs, and one new toy to keep him occupied for the two-hour duration. I'm hoping he sleeps (trying to delay his morning nap for the ride); but whatever happens, rest assured: I'll be drinking. Bring on the Bloody Marys, Flight Attendant.

I'm thrilled to be taking Hendrik to Colorado to visit his great-grandparents, who moved to the Mountain State 21 years ago. Twenty years ago, in the summer of 1991, my brother Mike and I journeyed there alone for our inaugural visit. How fast those last TWO decades flew! I've been lucky enough to travel to Colorado Springs about ten or so times over that long period. I've been to the summit of Pike's Peak many, many times.

I can't wait to take Snooze there. I can't wait to make another beautiful memory together.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

We Ain't in Undergrad Anymore, Baby.

Amidst a very hectic summer schedule of houseguests; travel (flying to Colorado on Saturday); playdates; a renewed gym membership; and furiously texting my sister Cat re: our slightly unhealthy So You Think You Can Dance obsession, I've got grad school orientation tonight, y'all!

I have been enthusiastically looking forward to this moment for months, ever since I learned I was accepted to business school. I am thrilled to be pursuing a graduate degree. I am overjoyed to have a serious adult outlet. I am approaching schooling as a new business venture. I've been waking at 5:30 AM to enjoy the peace of the morning and to indoctrinate myself into the ways of rousing early to complete coursework. (Squee! Coursework!) I feel invigorated that though there is a cost at present, I will eventually be contributing monetarily to our family again.

Most of all?

I am excited about the shoes.

Mah shoes, guys.

I have no cause to wear four-inch heels around the house, whilst I am chasing a rambunctious nearly-14 month-old babe. On weekends, it's about 567 degrees here, so even if J and I do score a night out sans babe, you will catch me in straight flats (oh, I will also rock the flops, but I try not to make a habit of that in the evenings. I am unspeakably fancy.)

I showered and blew dry my hair this morning. and then threw on a pair of ripped jeans and a black tank. I briefly wondered if these jeans would be appropriate for tonight's event. (This happens when it has been eons since you attended an event labeled "business casual".) And then: an epiphany!

My business clothes!

I am in business school. I am an adult. (I am 29, after all.) I own a home in a respectable suburb. Today I decided I would attempt to get involved in a community board, for fuck's sake.

I can wear my beautiful business clothes to business school. I can make like the other part-timers who are rushing to class from uber-demanding day jobs. No one has to know that my current occupation involves poop and My Gym and Mom's League.

Ladies and gents: HomeValley's back, and she's better than evah.

Now, where did I put my Spanx?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Trois Ans

Three years ago today, we stood on a gorgeous, sweltering beach in Punta Cana, and promised to "Give it to each other every day." (We realized later that Maria, our translator, had said "Giveth." But either works, right?)

We danced wildly all night long. Everyone was soaked with sweat. It was an excellent party. (And I damn good playlist!)

We ordered pizza at 2 AM, and chatted drunkenly in our honeymoon suite. We had done it! Married at last! We were finally able to relax and enjoy a few more days of vacation with great friends and family.

When we decided to partner up, we agreed to never become complacent. To strive. To encourage. To keep reaching, bettering, becoming.

We saw the pyramids at Giza; the hidden city at Petra. We visited the final resting place of Eva Peron in Buenos Aires. We conquered the suspect "Barbeque for 2" at a Montevideo parilla. We lounged on the white sand beaches of Turks and Caicos.

On top of the (ancient) world.

You earned a Master's degree!

We conceived and birthed a babe, who has morphed into an energetic, constantly-dancing, book-lovin', curly mullet-headed little boy.

We made him! Well done!

Oh, and then there was that 1500-mile move to Texas! And living apart, and selling our home, and flying to and fro with a 9 month-old. And buying our first home together; and attempting to refurbish and furnish it, and create a whole new social network in the Southwest, whilst keeping in close touch with those we already know and love.

One job gained, one job lost. One Master's degree attained, one (possibly two) just getting under way. One child birthed. One house bought, one house sold. One huge move.

Do we know how to keep is fresh or what?

And here we are, and here we'll stay, cultivating happiness.

I love you, Kins.

(And since there is no video montage this year - because I just did one for Hank's birthday, and there are approximately two photographs of the two of us together this year, and I am chubby in both - here is a little look back, at thinner times.)

Year 1:

Create your own video slideshow at

Year 2:

Create your own video slideshow at

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Pay It Forward.

Hank and I took my mom to the airport. Her two-week stay ended today. Strange, but those two weeks went lightning-quick.

I get blue when our guests leave. The word blue is appropriate. I'm only the tiniest bit relieved that I no longer have to worry about feeding extended family. I am mostly sad that we live so far apart. That they get an intimate glimpse into our lives for so many days, and then that intimacy ends abruptly. I wonder how Hendrik feels. Is he bored to be alone with me again? Does he realize when they go away? I feel guilty that they will miss him. Even if he wasn't so goddamned charming: they will miss him, and his happy screaming, and his chubby little toes.

I decided to console myself with a cinnamon dolce latte at Starbucks, as you do. As I waited in the drive-thru line, I scanned my Facebook feed. There was only one thing everyone was talking about.

Casey Anthony. Not Guilty.

I hadn't closely followed the trial, but this verdict was unsurprising. No hard evidence. If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit, etc. I'm not happy about it; but then, I don't know if she did it. All the prosecution proved is that she's an asshole. We already knew that.

Still, how heart-breaking. No matter the verdict, nothing will bring back that gorgeous little girl and the full life she was denied.

Reading status updates, I felt plain melancholy. I pulled up to the window and hastily ordered a morning bun. Only a morning bun could make it right.

"OK," said the man in the Starbuck's cap. "The person in the car in front of you decided to pay it forward, so you just owe me for the morning bun."

"Pay it forward?" I asked incredulously.

"Yeah, sometimes that happens here."

"Just like that?" I smiled. (Texas, you really confound me sometimes with your equal number churches and strip joints; your guns and your "Obama is a Socialist!" billboards. Huh.)

"Just like that," the man replied.

"Well, what did that car behind me order?" I asked. "I guess I'll buy that."

"Great! I like to see how far it goes. Sometimes people just say, 'awesome, thanks,' and keep on driving."

I thought: I'd like to see how far it goes too.

As I drove home, I thought of Caylee Anthony. I thought of the fury of my Facebook friends. I thought of the cries of injustice; the loss of faith in our justice system; the idea that the jurors should hire bodyguards.

I thought: what if that woman or man in the car in front of me had also just heard the verdict? And what if he or she thought: I am going to do something nice for Caylee, anonymously. In Caylee's name. So that something good can come out of evil. So that we won't forget her, or her suffering.

I know it was just a latte, guys. But it made me feel... hopeful.

We arrived home and I hugged my baby tightly, thankful for all that I have, and resigned to pick up the tab for a stranger a little more often.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fifteen Things.

Hi! I never blog anymore! And like three of you have asked me "wassup?" But it is just life, y'all. Life is long. And busy. And challenging. So! Here is what is new with me!

(Exclamation points!)

  1. Hank turned one. You saw the video. He's awesome and charming and swell. More on that later.

  2. Break out your backpack and Trapper Keeper: THIS GIRL will be attending University of Texas at Arlington in the fall. I will be getting my MBA, finally. (No, I am not sure yet what I am going to do with said MBA. But it will be mine - all mine!)

  3. I am done with grad school applications and the humbling process of soliciting recommendations from former employers. Huzzah.

  4. Visitors! J's mom, J's dad, J's sister and husband. Hosting is a blast but time-consuming. It's mostly just figuring out food: when we will eat? What will we eat? What will Hendrik eat? What time do we need to leave so that Hendrik is not hungry and/or sleepy? It is probably not acceptable to order pizza every night, but I may try it next week when my mom arrives for a TWO WEEK visit. Stay tuned.

  5. I seriously wish I still had my Trapper Keeper. I would organize the hell out of those folders.

  6. They still sell Caboodles make-up organizers, and nothing else, apparently. I just want an organizational caddy for my make-up that is not a bag that gets all gnarly from cracked blush cases and loose powder everywhere that doesn't make me feel like a twelve-year old girl and is not a clear plastic box that costs $20, Target. Get on this.

  7. Where was I going with this?

  8. The house is coming along quite nicely. Photos to come. Every surface has been painted; popcorn ceilings have been demolished (RIP early 90s); and many, many fixtures and bathrooms have been updated. We're loving this place.

  9. We've been slathering on the 100 SPF and spending countless hours in the pool. Having a pool is alternately terrifying (babies!) and remarkably decadent. We enjoy.

  10. It's seriously about 100 degrees here, everyday.

  11. It really is the humidity.

  12. The phone on my iPhone inexplicably stopped working last week, and after many attempts at troubleshooting, I have no choice but to schedule an appointment at the Apple "Genius" Bar. This frightens me; all of those people clamoring around all of that technology in that place! And yet, I still want an iPad. Go figure.

  13. I have been meeting lots of nice mamas here through a mom's league. We've joined a playgroup and there is no shortage of fun (and often free) activities for the wee ones. We've hit up the Fort Worth zoo; the Southlake Library for story time; Safari Park; the Fort Worh Children's Museum; and several playgrounds. I have subsequently decided that this is the most child-friendly city in America. Win!

  14. I've signed up for the Dallas White Rock Half-Marathon, because I don't have enough on my plate this year. But I seriously need to work on my fitness.

  15. I've resolved to write more. And not necessarily on this here blog (though I would like to accomplish that task as well). I've been neglecting my pretty blue Eva Peron journal as well, and I've found that I need the catharsis of putting pen to paper daily. It makes me a happier person, whether I am creating to-do lists, listing all of the things that are currently making me STABBY, or detailing the things that make my heart swell with gratitude. Talk soon!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Last night Big Mama needed some ALONE time. J let me know that he was invited to attend the Mavs game tonight, so I asked if he would mind if I ran to Target for a few minutes. (Because Target is like an Hawaiian vacation on those days when your child whines incessantly and WILL NOT BE MOLLIFIED, even with a truckload of puffs and Elmo DVDs. Christ.)

So off to Target I went. I bought a latte and headed for the books. I selected a few and sat in an aisle. In Target. It was a silent 30 minutes, and I walked out refreshed.

Until the ferocious wind nearly knocked me down.

"J!" I call, as I wander back into our house. "I almost blew away out there."

And as if ON MOTHER EFFIN' CUE, the sirens blare.

Now, I've been in Texas long enough (er, 7 weeks?) to know that a tornado watch is NBD. They happen. They don't really touch down here. We even had a plan! Which consisted of me saying:

If it happens, we'll get in this closet.

To which J replied, No, the bathroom.

J, there are windows in the bathroom.

No, Snooze's bathroom.

J! That's on the second floor. You can't be on the second floor!

Obviously, a solid plan.

But I haven't heard the sirens yet, though we know they exist. So I pick up my phone, and find the Weather Center app.

"Shit!" I exclaim, my adrenaline beginning to pump. "We're under warning. That means it's been spotted somewhere."

J, only slightly interested at this point, grunts. I run upstairs to the playroom, site of the only TV we currently have up and running in the house.

And I learn that the twister's been spotted in Saginaw, and is headed due east.

Straight for us, y'all. Straight for us.

J starts to get serious in his try not to alarm the hysterical wife voice. "I'm just going to put my shoes on," he says nonchalantly. "Just in case I have to run out." (No, I don't know why he would be running out either, but it really is best to be prepared.)

We run through the house collecting flashlights and matches, and I wonder when I should grab our sleeping babe to bring him downstairs to our "safe" closet. I am also listening to the meteorologist beginning to panic, as she laments on camera: "If my neighbor is watching, please call me. Let me know my house is okay, let me know my dogs are okay." She lives in our small suburb.

"It's okay, babe," J assures me. But as he says this, things start to get darker outside. The wind picks up.

And a few minutes later, hysterical weather lady yelps, "Excuse me, I have to step out. I have to make a call. This thing is headed STRAIGHT for my house!"

I run to Hendrik's room, grab him as gingerly as possible, and run down the stairs. We huddle in the closet together, J standing guard at the door, ready to jump in if the windows start shattering. The wind howls outside, and we watch - through our picturesque floor to ceiling windows in the "great room" - our lawn chairs flying into our pool. Hail - golfball size - hammers our roof. Hendrik groggily lifts his head as I soothe him, rubbing his hair and telling him - and myself - it will be okay.

It has to be, right? I think. I DID NOT move to Texas to buy our dream house and die in the great room closet, dudes.

And almost as quickly as it started, the winds begin to cease. My heart continues to pump loudly. "Is it over?" I ask J repeatedly. "Is it over?"

From upstairs, I hear our now-composed meteorologist saying to the anchor, "The dogs are okay!" And I know that the worst is probably passed. Our electricity goes out shortly thereafter, and eventually I feel safe enough to put Hendrik back to bed. The storms continue throughout the evening, and I sleep fitfully, waking to check my phone to ensure that another twister isn't on its way to our once bucolic home.

Welcome to Texas, y'all. Eff me.

*Author's Note: I should have posted this last Wednesday, guys, I'm a jerk.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Man Turns ONE.

In an eerie coincidence, I just logged into Blogger and noticed that I have exactly 517 posts on QITNM. And we know what 5.17 is, right, y'all??


First, let me apologize that the last post here, er, six weeks ago? Is titled "Boob Emergency". You guys deserve better than that. But rest assured, HomeValley is alive and thriving and as lovable as ever. I gots lots of details to share.

But today is not about us, guys. It's about the tiniest Lord of the Manor, Hendrik Hemdal Orlando, in all his ONE-ness.

He does this thing now, where he gets shy. He grins widely, turns away, rests his head on his outstretched arm, and waves, squeezing his little hand in a greeting. It's absolutely precious, and it's so him. I like that we have a little person in the house, with all of his quirks and mannerisms.

What a long, wonderful, agonizing, exhausting, euphoric, miraculous, turbulent, hilarious year, Hendrik. Our love for you knows no bounds.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Boob Emergency!

Lactating Mothers of the Internet, I beseech you. We have an issue over here.


My little man has EIGHT teeth in his tiny little mouth. I am still nursing exclusively; and since my body has adjusted to Hendrik's feeding schedule - and since we are NEVER APART - I haven't been pumping at all. He nurses four times a day at present: twice in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once before bed.

He gives very distinct hunger cues these days - mainly, he becomes whiny, crawls into my lap, and grabs at my shirt. He's pretty direct. He nurses very quickly - maybe fifteen minutes total per day - so I thought we'd go on peacefully until 12 months, at which time we'd wean to cow's milk.


It's only been two days of this, but one bite is too many in my book. I've tried the standard: remove him, tell him sternly "NO BITING!" and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. He gets terribly upset (because I am terribly upset); but as soon as he calms down and we try again, he is biting me again.

Is he trying to tell me something? Is he ready to wean? He's always been a bit ahead of his time - could it be time to move to cow's milk at ten months and one week?

Any advice would be most appreciated, ladies! I've been giving him about three tries before I finally remove him and tell him his meal is over. I'm concerned he is not getting enough nutrition, but so far he seems unfazed. Help?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

House to Home.

I wasn't in the picture when J bought our current/very soon-to-be former home. I only know the transformation from photos, so it's hard for me to appreciate the sweat equity my husband put into this place. He's got a love/hate relationship with this gorgeous Manayunk rowhome; the magahony inlay, original hardwoods are second-to-none, but old houses have lots of baggage. And raccoons, apparently.

I've lived here for just over four years now, and each year I've fallen deeper and deeper in love with our home. But as J said to me recently, the conveniences she offered at ages 25 and 28 are vastly different than the ones we're in search of at 31 and 34. We need space; fresh air. Lord knows I feel a pang when I think of leaving Main Street behind, but we don't exactly frequent the bars and restaurants like we did in 2009; and frankly the Starbucks is just making us poor.

I wanted to share with you just HOW VAST the change was, and how much of a visionary my husband is. Consider what he purchased back in 2004:

The living room then.

And later.

And now.

The kitchen then.

And later.

And now.

The bathroom - my GOD, the bathroom - then.

And later.

And now.

I mean, don't you seriously want to marry him a little right now?